Barb City Manor gives students chance to volunteer with elderly

By Maria Ahmad

Students volunteering at Barb City Manor (BCM), 680 Haish Blvd., can expect to do a variety of activities with the residents while learning more about the senior population.

Various student groups at NIU host special volunteer sessions at the retirement home and do a range of activities.

“Most volunteers will do social and recreational activities like card games or Bingo,” said Maureen Gerrity, assistant administrator of BCM. “Some groups also perform music with the residents.”

The Barb City Manor has 63 apartments in which married and widowed seniors live.

Alpha Phi Omega (APO) has had a strong volunteer relationship with BCM. APO has set up events for groups of 10-15 students to volunteer and play games, usually Bingo, with residents, said Jenna Labadi, former service vice president of APO.

“The residents there are so witty and get so excited to hang out with us ‘youngins,’ as they like to call us,” Labadi said. “The best part about it is seeing how much our presence means to some of them.”

Volunteers can also spend time with and talk to the seniors to learn about their history and share stories, Gerrity said.

BCM has served as a site for NIU Cares Day, an event hosted by Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD). BCM also works with the School of Nursing and Health Studies (NUHS) where students visit as a part of training.

“Volunteering is good for the soul and a great way to connect with and contribute to your community,” said SILD Director Jill Zambito. “Specifically, volunteering at a retirement home is a wonderful way to provide extra care for people who have already contributed to society.”